DAN SCIFO, Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins have had a tough time solving Henrik Lundqvist for the better part of two seasons. For at least one night, they were able to frustrate the New York Rangers’ star goaltender and earn a rare win against their division rival.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist each scored in the final 2:13 of the second period, leading the Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night.
“It’s good for us mentally, but I don’t think that’s something we were worried about,” Crosby said. “I think we know we can score goals and it’s nice when you can do it in a bunch.”
Malkin added two assists and Phil Kessel scored into an empty net for the Penguins, who infuriated Lundqvist midway through the second and chased him with a three-goal flurry at the end of the period.
Hornqvist has five goals in his last three games for Pittsburgh, which won for the 10th time in 12 home games and has a victory in four of six overall.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots for the Penguins and is one away from becoming the 20th goalie in NHL history to reach 350 wins.
“They’re a team that can shut it down so well, and so much and be so patient,” Fleury said. “It gets frustrating, but we kept coming at them.”
Lundqvist was whistled for delay of game during an odd second-period sequence in which he threw his own net off its moorings to get a stoppage in play. He was visibly upset after colliding with teammate Ryan McDonagh following a Penguins 2-on-1 rush and tossed his net into the end boards as Pittsburgh re-entered the zone seconds later, drawing the ire of the home fans.
“I think he was trying to tell the referee he was hurt and I don’t know if the signals didn’t cross or whatever, but obviously the referee didn’t pick up on it and he wasn’t feeling right,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
Vigneault said Lundqvist was experiencing neck spasms after the second period and the trainers thought it would be best to hold him out during the third.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious, but they wanted to go on the safe side, so we took him out,” Vigneault said.
Chris Kreider scored his 14th for the Rangers, whose three-game win streak ended. New York was unable to win for the sixth time in seven road games after a previous stretch that saw the Rangers win just four times in 18 games away from home.
Pittsburgh won just two of the previous 13 meetings (1-11-1) against the Rangers, who were trying to win five straight against Pittsburgh for the third time in franchise history, and first since the 1973-74 season.
Lundqvist started each of the last 13 games against Pittsburgh and allowed just three goals on 119 shots during the previous four meetings. That included a 34-save effort last month for his fourth career shutout against the Penguins. He made 19 saves through two periods Thursday before Antti Raanta took over and stopped three shots in the third.
“Each game kind of tells its own story, so I don’t read into it too much,” Crosby said. “Whether we got one in the past or three tonight, I think we’re confident that we can score goals if we do the right things no matter who we’re playing.”
Crosby registered just six points in his previous 13 meetings against the Rangers, including two in nine home games. Malkin, who missed the last meeting against New York with a lower-body injury, was held without a goal for each of the previous six against the Rangers.
“To be able to get a few was nice and gave us some momentum,” Crosby said.
Kreider scored the game’s first goal with 3:10 left in the second period, but Crosby, Malkin and Hornqvist answered for Pittsburgh with three goals in 2:36.
Crosby’s initial shot bounced off the end boards and the Penguins captain, circling around the net, redirected the puck toward the goal, where it hit off Lundqvist’s skate and went across the line.
Malkin scored 21 seconds later, beating Lundqvist with a sharp wrister after Dan Girardi’s blocked shot.
Pittsburgh scored a power-play goal with 34 seconds left in the period when Hornqvist tipped Kessel’s point shot behind Lundqvist, making it a 3-1 game.
NOTES: Rangers F Rick Nash skated for the first time in a month on Thursday. He hasn’t played since Jan. 22, missing his 17th game with a bone bruise in his left leg. … Rangers D Marc Staal missed Thursday’s game with the flu. … Penguins D Justin Schultz practiced Thursday for the first time since he was acquired in a trade with Edmonton, but was scratched against the Rangers. … Penguins F Kevin Porter left in the first period with a right leg injury and did not return. … The final two regular-season meetings between the Penguins and Rangers will be played at Madison Square Garden later this month. … New York is at Washington on Friday, while Pittsburgh hosts Calgary on Saturday.
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